Preventing Accidental Injury.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2011
KDHE Office of Communications
Reading, Writing and... Safety!
Safe Kids Gives Back-to-School Safety Tips to Parents
Topeka— Safe Kids Kansas reminds parents to take time out to teach and review safety guidelines with their kids to get them back to school safely.
“Whether it’s their first day of Kindergarten, or they are returning after summer vacation, with this change in routine it’s important to review safety tips together,” says Cherie Sage, State Director for Safe Kids Kansas.
School Bus Safety
School buses are, by far, the safest way for kids of all ages to get to and from school. School buses are designed with safety features different than regular passenger vehicles. They are large and highly visible, and the padded, high-backed seats on school buses create protective compartments, like egg cartons. Sage suggests you explain this to your child so they understand why on a school bus they may not be buckling up with seat belts. “It’s a different form of protection, but it can send a mixed message to kids when they realize they’re not buckling up in a vehicle,” she said. Nationally, there are studies and changes afoot that suggest a future where seat belts will be required equipment on school buses.
More significant dangers lie outside the school bus. “More children are killed or injured crossing the street at bus stops than riding on a school bus,” said Sage. Teach your children about the 10-foot danger zone around the school bus, where the driver can’t see children on the ground. Young children should take eight giant steps away from the bus to be sure the bus driver can see them. Older kids should look to the bus driver for an “OK” sign before crossing.
Safe Kids Kansas also reminds drivers to obey state laws that prohibit passing a stopped school bus. Children should also be reminded to:
- Arrive at the stop at least five minutes before the bus arrives.
- Stay out of the street and avoid horseplay.
- Ask the bus driver for help if anything is dropped while entering or exiting the bus, or if they spot something under the bus, such as a pet.
Walking to School
- Safe Kids Kansas recommends that children under 10 never cross the street alone. Make sure you follow these additional safety guidelines:
- Choose the safest route and walk it with children. Look for the most direct route with the fewest street crossings.
- Teach children to recognize and obey all traffic signals and markings.
- Make sure children look in all directions before crossing the street. Teach them to stop at the curb and look left, right and left again for traffic. If a vehicle is approaching, wave and make eye contact with the driver and wait until the vehicle comes to a stop before crossing the street.
- Teach children to cross the street at a corner or crosswalk, never from between parked cars or from behind bushes or shrubs.
- Warn children to be extra alert in bad weather. Visibility might be poor and motorists might not be able to see them or stop quickly.
- Be a good role model. Children need you to tell them AND show them how to be safe pedestrians. Explain to older kids in your home or neighborhood how important it is to be good role models.
Riding Bikes to School
Whether out of necessity or for fun, many children choose to ride their bikes to school. Unfortunately, bicycles are the most common sport/recreational product involved in injuries among 5- to 14-year-olds.
To keep children safe, Safe Kids Kansas offers these safety tips for children riding bicycles to school:
- Always wear a helmet, and make sure it fits correctly. A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward and backward or side to side. The helmet straps must always be buckled, but not too tightly. Safe Kids recommends the “Eyes, Ears and Mouth” test:
- EYES: Position the helmet on your head. Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
- EARS: Make sure the straps of the helmet form a "V" under your ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable.
- MOUTH: Open your mouth as wide as you can. Do you feel the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is flat against your skin.
- Follow the rules of the road. Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against traffic; use appropriate hand signals; respect traffic signals; stop at all intersections, marked and unmarked; and stop and look left, right and left again before entering or crossing the street.
- Never let children ride on the road without direct adult supervision until age 10, and have demonstrated that they always follow the rules.
- Plan a safe cycling route with children and ride it with them. A safe cycling route to school may not be the same as a safe walking route.
- Do not ride at night. Children should not be allowed to ride after dark, and should wear retro-reflective clothing when biking at dawn, dusk, or during inclement weather.
Driving Children to School
- Always use child safety seats, booster seats, and safety belts correctly every time your children ride. Kids are required by Kansas law to be in a car seat or booster seat until they are at least eight years old, 80 pounds, or 4’ 9” tall. Children under age 13 should ride in the back seat whenever possible. For more information, visit www.kansasboosterseat.org.
- Drop off children in a safe location so that they do not have to cross the street. Make sure they enter and leave the car on the curb side.
For more information about back to school safety, call 785-296-1223 or visit www.safekids.org.
Safe Kids Kansas, Inc. is a nonprofit Coalition of over 70 statewide organizations and businesses dedicated to preventing accidental injuries to Kansas children ages 0-14. Local coalitions and chapters cover Allen, Anderson, Butler, Clay, Coffey, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Elk, Ellis, Finney, Geary, Harvey, Johnson, Kiowa, Labette, Leavenworth, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Mitchell, Montgomery, Pottawatomie, Riley, Saline, Sedgwick, Shawnee, Smith, and Sumner counties, as well as the city of Emporia and the Metro Kansas City Area (Wyandotte county and several Missouri counties.) Safe Kids Kansas a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury. The lead agency for Safe Kids Kansas is the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Visit us at www.safekidskansas.org and on Facebook.